The Austin Chronicle

Day Trips: Smither Park, Houston

Art garden turns old dishes into beautiful mosaics

By Gerald E. McLeod, October 28, 2016, Columns

Smither Park in Houston shines like a homemade jewel of art and green space surrounded by the bustle of the city. A work in progress for nearly six years, the park uses recycled items donated by residents to create a colorful playground. Two doors down from the venerable Orange Show Monument, the park was shepherded to completion by the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art. Opened in September, the whimsical art garden is another jewel in Houston's crown of folk-art destinations.

The narrow two-block park fills the half-acre with a covered pavilion, swing set, and winding sidewalks covered in mosaics created from broken glass, tile, bottle caps, and other items. Huntsville architect Dan Phillips oversaw the work of 300 artists who carefully placed the colorful shards. The park's Lindley Fish band shell looks like a fish from the outside and a kaleidoscope from the inside. A 400-foot-long memory wall uses mosaics to create giant creatures and honor friends and family. It's a fun and happy place.

Owned by the Orange Show Foundation, the park is named for the Smither family of Houston who have served on the Orange Show board and have supported numerous folk artists over the years.

Smither Park is at 2441 Munger southeast of downtown Houston off I-45. There is no admission fee to the park, which is open daily from sunrise to sunset. Look for special events at the park at

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